(1939-02-15) Where There's Smoke
Details for Where There's Smoke
Summary: Chaucer visits the MLE and talks to Graham and Shelley about a theft and threat by a murderous firebug.
Date: 1939-02-15
Location: Ministy of Magic - Magical Law Enforcement Office
Related: Checking Out Before Checking Out and the What Men Kill For plot

There's always something going on in the MLE Office. Aurors and Hit Wizards sit at their desks going over paperwork. Witnesses being shown back to private rooms to give their statement. Coworkers conferring over cases as they search for the clue that will close it. At the moment, Shelley has just left a file with her notes tucked into it on the desk of a colleague and makes her way towards the table set in the corner where they can fix themselves a bit of tea. Going over files was slow and tedious work - and who wouldn't mind a cuppa afterwards?

Graham has returned to work full time having missed a day or two of course this is something that is noticed from him of all people. The young man had been in his office most of the day working on some leads staying busy is key! He closes the last file a report from about twenty years ago is the date on it. He files it and locks it back up before needing a break. He will leave his office happening to walk towards the break table as well. "Hello Prewett." he says when he sees who is there remembering to use the last name in the office at least.

Chaucer rarely took the Floo network, but this time he didn't want to be seen leaving his house, and so used it, coughing a little. He had already been covered in ashes at least though, carrying a small paper sack folded up neatly as he entered, talked to folk, and then was sent up here. He moved stiffly, with some discomfort as he does so, leaning on his cane as he went, moving up to the first desk he saw. Perhaps the old man was at a loss of WHO to speak to specifically.

"Cohen," Shelley responds. She hands off the cup of tea she'd just made for herself, starting up a second instead. She takes a sip, then glances up to see the old man standing awkwardly by one of the desks, while the occupant of said desk does their best to look so absorbed they don't notice him. /Someone's/ afraid of catching a new case. She rolls her eyes. "Can we help you, sir?" she asks instead. Not like /she/ stands at risk of catching new case.

Chaucer glances up and over at Shelley, looking a bit relieved. SHE he recognized, and he makes his way over "I had three guests the other night, of the more wizardly unruly kind, if you get my drift. My shop was invaded and life threatened, for this." he holds the ash-smeared paper bag. "Well, this is what they didn't take. I now think that I fear for my life, as well as my life's' work. But this goes beyond that. A bigger thing."

As he spots the old man appear there, he'll side glance to the other a moment but she asks his questions. Graham will listen for the mans answer before he looks to the bag held by the man "We can help you of course, perhaps we should step into an office? So we can hear the full story?" he will look to the auror "Yours or mine?" he asks though he will accept the tea "Thanks." he says all the same.

"Mine's fine," Shelley offers, gesturing for the other two to follow her. She taps it with her wand to unlock it, then opens the door, stepping in and slipping behind her desk. It's cramped, but there's a desk, with a chair on one side, and two on the other. And there's some books on a shelf, a cabinet for some files - and an utter lack of kitsch to give the place personality. "Have a seat," she invites them both.

Chaucer limps in carefully, still carrying the bag, which he puts loathingly on the desk before taking a seat, sighing in relief as he rubs his face tiredly.

Graham follows along with the others tea in hand. He pauses as she unlocks the door following the older man in and shutting the door behind himself. He will move to sit in the free chair now glancing to the bag as it is set down. It's her office so she can begin the questions he will be listening closely though interested on what's exactly happened here.

"Would you like us to have a cup of tea brought?" Shelley offers as she settles in, taking a sip from her own cup. She looks at the bag as its set on the table, then asks, "May I…?" Only at his agreement, would she pull out the delicate and burned fragment, and begin reading it.

"Please, yes." remarks Chaucer at that "Something to calm my nerves. Tea always does the trick. Its like magic." he then chuckles a little, thickly "I'm sure that's a piece of what they were after. As a note, they threatened my life AND my shop to get it, and if I told you. But this kind of stuff… if they tried to redo that, well, that would be worse off. "

"I got it. How do you take your tea?" Graham will say and ask standing back up he'll open the door calling for one of the desk staff to bring a tea over and they'll make it however the other likes it. It's only after he accepts it that he'll give thanks and turn back to the others shutting the door and moving back to set the tea down for the other. He will look over the burned fragment which Shelley is looking at before back to the man. "Have a sip to calm your nerves then we can start from the beginning." he says being kindly.

"Black, two sugar." he nods "Well, it was a rather cold night out. I was reviewing some new manuscripts for printing when they came in. Three of them. one girl and two gentlemen. I honestly should have suspected when they charmed the door shut. But some people are just like that." he notes "The ringleader immediately admitted to… to having set fire to my printing press a hundred years ago! You weren't a live then I think, but it destroyed… a lot." he looked very pained "They couldn't figure out who did it then. There was no evidence. It was magic arson without a suspect."

Shelley reads it three times, before pushing the fragment over to Graham, her finger tapping a specific word on the scrap. 'Amplifier.'

The scrap of paper, burned, fragile, and mostly illegible, reads:
"… Shows greater capacity for thought, speech and motor skills than…
"… Seem to have distant recognition…"
"… bloodlust. Contrary to expectations, the heart provokes…."
"… monstrous. The sheer act of killing…"
"… necessary evil. The Amplifier is…"
"… abandoned due to inconclusive…"
"… a literal army…"
"… tide of the dead."
"… prototype destroyed."

"A hundred years ago?" Shelley repeats with a faint frown. "So - this was burned at that time? Or was it burned when the three of them came in? Did you happen to catch any /names/?"

"Only the name of the book and its' author." admits Chaucer. "It was burnt then. Apparently, he didn't think I had it then. I forgot all about it as well. I… locked it up, and the others I didn't think I could restore or wasn't worth restoring in a trunk and forgot about it. I couldn't bear to look at it. " he admits, as he goes into the description of the three as best he could remember. "The book never got to print. It wasn't well written. I don't even think I got as far as that page

Graham shakes his head "I'm afraid not." he will say about the time line for the press burning. The other auror asks about names and he looks back and accepts the fragment looking it over but two words jump out him he understands one the other could be worse or coincidence. "Also this fragment, what book was it part of if you can recall? The title or subject or author even." he will ask though pauses well forcing himself to not overload the older wizard.

Graham shakes his head "I'm afraid not." he will say about the time line for the press burning. The other auror asks about names and he looks back and accepts the fragment looking it over but two words jump out him he understands one the other could be worse or coincidence. "What was the name and the author? Perhaps you remember some of the matter of the book?" he will seem interested in this part as well.

"THAT I remember quite well, although I wish I hadn't." notes Chaucer grimly. "Healer Euphrates Magical Constructs Compendium. Ahh… Williams was the name I believe."

"Do you remember Williams' first name?" Shelley asks. "And this is all that remains of the only copy of the text?" She can't help but feel disappointed - desperately so. "Did /anyone/ read the damaged copy that remained after the first fire? Is there any chance there are notes somewhere? Rough drafts, or… anything?" This… this was /probably/ the book she'd been looking for, digging through the burned remains of the Willis estate to find.

Chaucer frowns and sips the tea a little bit "… Sorry. not williams. Willias. Abraham… Abram Willis." he finally states "As far as I know, no. I didn't think it was worth restoring. It seemed dangerous research, and wasn't even fit to be published." he admits to that. "The rest of the text is with those dark wizards who came to get it."

The auror will listen and commit the name to memory and the author as well as the old man corrects himself he will nod this is sort of adding up at least "I'm sure as is common they were hiding their features, but do you have any kind of description male or female about how tall or anything of that sort, a foreign accent or anything?" Graham asks to see if any sort of narrowing down can be done.

Chaucer frowns curiously "One was a woman. Slight, but womanly. The other two were men. The thug was quite tall. They had some spell obscuring their faces, yes. The leader was old - considering he was around when he set fire the FIRST time, one should expect this. A little hunched though. Raspy voice. The woman had a very smooth, confident voice.

"Abram Willis," Shelley repeats, confusion on her features. Abram Willis hadn't been over a hundred years old - he couldn't possibly be the /author/ of the old book. "And they have the manuscript now?" She does not look best pleased by this. "How did /you/ come by the book, 100 years ago?" she asks.

Graham listens to the profile and puts that down as well, he'll write all this down when he's back to his office but he can remember well enough. The other asks a question and he'll lift his tea to take a drink before it gets to cold so the question can be answered.

"It was submitted to Lima Press for publication. It didn't make the cut, but since they did not send a return fee, I kept the manuscript." explains Chaucer "Eventually it would have been weeded out. I wish I had done that sooner."

"Do you retain any documentation from those days, back when you received the manuscript?" Shelley asks persistently, a determined expression on her features. "Would we be permitted to look through everything you have that survived the first fire?"

"I… I would have to look. A lot was lost in the first fire." admits the man, pained. Then he pauses, and gets an idea "He threatened to destroy the rest, and myself, if I told the Aurors or anyone. I chose to come to you. I will give you everything that there was, if you could help me secure the rest of my collection and myself." he states.

"We would be interested in seeing the information, we can of course help you with a guard detail until we can make sure you are safe." Graham will say to the older wizard he is trying to think if any other questions will suit them at the moment "I know it was a long time ago, but when the book came in was it you who looked it over to see if it would be published or not?" he pauses "I suppose my question is on the content if any specific subjects you can remember being covered if that was the case, covered named items?"

"It was yes. as I said, I didn't read the ENTIRE thing. " he admits "And it would make me feel better if we moved what you needed to here perhaps, and the rest o the collection. Perhaps its time I find better security. This isn't the old days anymore after all. " he looked quite uncertain all of a sudden "Let me think a few minutes on it. It was a while ago, to be sure…" he pauses, to sip his tea.

"We can send people over - discretely - to begin moving out your things. You have a floo on the premises?" Shelley asks. "And anything you can remember and record for us about that manuscript…" With four deaths already associated with the case, they desperately needed to close it.

"I do yes. Main fireplace." he pulls out an old, probably enchanted key "The large trunk is the stuff from the fire that this manuscript was in. I just need the… help moving everything. Maybe London for a short time. Oh, o course! The bank." he nods "I will start musing and fretting over it right away. I do not want these people to do what it looks like they want to do."

Graham looks between the nodding "Yes of course, we'll be in and out quickly." he will say he's clearly distracted today he will finish off his tea rather quickly. "Shelley." oops but oh well "Can you get the group together and prepared i'll join up but I need to see Rena it's important." the young man will push his chair back but will wait adding "Any bit of information however small seeming could be what cracks this so anything you know would be more than helpful."

Chaucer nods "The trunk is probably your best bet. Once I'm done here, and you folk are there, I'll go back - sorry, I guess I'm a bit of a coward - and look through to see if I have any old records that survived in the main archives. "

Chaucer says, "I wont have any COPIES there, but I may have some letters you know?"

Shelley nods to Graham - briefly rolling her eyes at him. "I'm on it," she promises. Looking back to Chaucer she adds, "Anything from the period before that fire we'll bring here to our office - but everything else, we will happily transport to Gringott's for you and, if your vault isn't large enough, we should be able to cover the added expense of renting extra space." After all - it's cheaper to use the goblin-provided security than their own man power.

"So - if I have this correctly - three wizards came into your shop, they locked the door behind them, they demanded that manuscript by /name/ under threat of death and destruction of your shop. And after you surrendered it, they said they would kill you if you went to the MLE, and left. That's all accurate? Did I forget anything important?"

"That is all, correct. They also mentioned the late Mrs Willis." he shivers "So I am very sure that by their wording they killed her as well. I would recognize those voices anywhere now."

"Thank you." Graham says to the other auror before turning to the older man. "Thank you for coming to us, it'll make a huge difference we can stop this from happening again and to anyone else now." he will say sure that this is the information that they need. He will nod to each before moving to open the door he'll open and shut it lightly behind him.

"They killed her, her husband, their teenage daughter, and their retainer," Shelley confirms solemnly. "But they seem to have a preference for killing those of /less/ than pure blood." She looks at the burned scrap thoughtfully again, then looks back up at Chaucer. "How many of them had wands drawn? Can you describe their wands?"

Chaucer recalls some good details about each wand that he saw, and describes them to Shelley

"Thank you. That is /very/ helpful," Shelley responds, smiling at Chaucer. She takes notes of this information, then looks back up at the man across from her. "Alright. I'll show you to somewhere where you can work on everything you remember about the manuscript - no matter how unimportant or tenuous things may seem. I'll organize the effort to relocate your things. If you need anything in the meantime, just ask and we'll provide it for you. We /really/ appreciate your cooperation, and I cannot stress enough how important this is for our case."

Chaucer remarks "The writer didn't seem all that experienced. But sometimes one persons' failure is another ones' success." grimly "Thank you. I think I'll stay in the Leaky Cauldron. I will put Lima Press as 'closed' for a while. Maybe its time to move it anyways."

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Just stay here in the MLE office until we can get everything moved to a secure location, and we'll figure out your security, as well," Shelley says firmly, rising to her feet and gesturing for Chaucer to proceed her from the room. She'll escort him to a conference room, and make sure he's provided with parchment, quills, and ink.

Chaucer nods. "Wait, you mean live here? Do you have such places? " he asks, standing stiffly to follow her "Slow down a little. They made me drag that ruddy trunk out myself and I'm still feeling it."

Shelley slows her step - though the conference room is only a handful of door down. "No. Not live here - just stay here until we get everything moved out. That should only take a few hours, and in the meantime, we can order in some food for you, fetch you some books if you like, put on the Wireless…"

Chaucer ahhs and nods "That sounds good. Yes." he notes as he follows her "Food sounds good. And I should send a few letters to people who may be stopping by. I was busy dealing with the fire brigade in Nottingham when the smoke was reported."

"For your safety," Shelley says as she holds the door to the conference room open for him. "I recommend you let an auror read your correspondence before you send it - just to make sure that nothing will inadvertently tip off these wizards that you've decided to cooperate with the MLE."

Chaucer nods "Fair enough. All I was going to say is "Due to the fire, we are closed indefinitely" he notes as he hobbles in, carrying the tea carefully.

"That should be safe enough," Shelley agrees. At least the old man seems to have his senses. "Take a seat. I'll have someone in with parchment, quills, and ink in a moment. And anything else you require - just let him know, and he'll fetch it for you," she promises. "Within reason, obviously," she adds in a wry tone.

Chaucer chuckles "I will try not to be disappointed at not having an eight horse carriage then." he smirked.

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